It’s become tradition that NXT hosts a show the night before any of WWE’s big four PPV’s. It’s also become a tradition that the developmental brand outshines the main roster time at their major events, and tonight’s TakeOver: New Orleans has the potential to do the same. It’s another fantastically built card; Aleister Black finally gets his opportunity at the NXT Championship, Shayna Baszler has a second shot at Ember Moon’s title, and a new championship will debut. On top of all of that, one of the greatest WWE storylines in recent history will conclude as Johnny Gargano takes on Tomasso Ciampa.
There’s really not much more to say than it’s going to be another terrific event from the black-and-yellow brand, so let’s get right into it!
NXT Women’s Championship - Ember Moon (C) vs Shanya Baszler
After Asuka held the belt for so long and left without losing the championship, the women of NXT were behind the 8 ball. How could a division still look credible when one woman walks through everyone? However, Ember Moon and Shanya Baszler have done a great job in their most recent feud for the NXT Women’s Championship. The best feuds have both members looking strong, and that’s exactly what this feud has done. The Queen of Spades has looked like a monster throughout, ready to hurt anyone to get what she wants. The only reason that she didn’t win the championship was because of one slip up. Ember Moon has looked great throughout - a gutsy, fearless babyface who wants to hold onto the belt no matter what. Even with her Rumble appearance after TakeOver: Philadelphia, she still sold the arm like a champ.
I think the worst thing they could do here is have Moon win clean. Baszler has an aura that she’s unstoppable: if they have her lose both of her championship matches (along with the MYC final), where does that go? Moon is main roster ready and would fit in great on either RAW or Smackdown. Personally, I still think she should have been the one to end Asuka’s streak. I hope the match they have is similar to their Philadelphia one, but this one should end with Shanya holding the women’s championship. Because, god dammit, I want Kairi Sane in a feud for the women’s championship.
Prediction: Shanya Baszler chokes out Ember Moon (who doesn’t tap) to become the New NXT Women’s Champion.
NXT Tag Team Championship: Undisputed Era (C) vs The Authors of Pain vs Roderick Strong & Pete Dunne
Well this should be interesting, to say the least. No doubt injuries have thrown plans out the window for this, with Adam Cole likely to have to pull double duty. Bobby Fish will not compete in the NXT Tag team title match, forcing the former tag team Future Shock to team up again. They’re not the only makeshift tag team in this matchup, though. Roderick Strong wanted into the Dusty Rhodes tag team classic after Mustache Mountain bowed out, and he brought his UK frenemy Pete Dunne in as his partner. Now, these two have been delightful throughout the tournament, as they should. They are both fantastic wrestlers. The Authors of Pain are a different story then Strong & Dunne, though - they have been inseparable as a team since their debut. Now, they have grown tons in their time in developmental. Just go back and watch their first match with American Alpha, and the watch AOP vs Fish & O’Reilly in Philly. It’s night and day.
Do they need the titles though again? No. Simply put, they could do some damage over on RAW.
Prediction: The Undisputed Era retains their tag team championships
Ladder Match for North American Championship - Adam Cole vs Velveteen Dream vs ECIII vs Ricochet vs Lars Sullivan vs Killian Dain
Won’t this be just lovely? I’ve thought NXT could always use a secondary title to help establish more feuds, and the North American championship has already brought quite a lovely group of individuals to sports entertain us. The in-ring talent, storytelling, and spots these 6 can bring should bring a great ladder match to us.
Lars & Killian will probably take each other out of the equation at some point. They’re in for a lengthy feud, and I feel that this will kickstart the beginning of that. Adam Cole probably won’t win, and he’ll blame it for having to pull double duty - but God, I’d love to see Cole take this. It’s a three-horse race between ECIII, Velveteen Dream and Ricochet for this author. They never have given incoming talent a belt in their first match (correct me if I’m wrong). Velveteen Dream has done amazing work since coming into play, and the fans would love to see him win here. If you haven’t seen Ricochet work, stop now and go look up some of his matches. Then, tell me how excited you are to see him in a ladder match with this caliber of workers.
How would I book the finish of this match? ECIII comes incredibly close to winning, taking his time, and Ricochet capitalizes on the opportunity to take the title down. That way, we get Ethan Carter in title contention and guarantee great matches with Ricochet holding the belt. Killian Dain and Lars feud, and maybe Dream sets his sights on the NXT Championship.
Prediction: Ricochet becomes the inaugural North American Champion.
NXT Championship match: Andrade Cien Almas (C) w/ Zelina Vega vs Aleister Black
Andrade Cien Almas has made me become an Andrade Cien Almas mark. I think he’s done great work since he’s been paired with Zelina Vega - and he has repaid NXT by giving them a great heel champion. His feud with Johnny Gargano brought some absolutely fantastic moments to us in recent memory. And one cannot simply forget how good Zelina has been for Almas. She deserves a ton of credit for her performances in NXT thus far. Just look back one year from Black’s debut to now to see the difference in his character. Who honestly thought he would ever be main eventing in NXT?
Aleister Black has been the most interesting part of NXT (aside from DIY’s breakup angle. He’s been absolutely unstoppable thus far in NXT, and everything about him kicks ass. His in-ring work is great, he is loved by the fans, and his character work is among the best in NXT.
The time to put the title on Black is now. Unless they want to continue this feud (which really wouldn’t make sense), Black should win. Simply put. Andrade and Zelina could do some great work on the main roster.
Prediction: Aleister Black becomes the (fittingly) 13th NXT Champion.
Johnny Gargano vs Tommaso Ciampa (Unsanctioned Match)
I’m legitimately torn on this prediction. I’ll talk through both sides. On one hand, this feud has been masterfully booked from the minute it was alluded too. Johnny Gargano has become the next Daniel Bryan mega-babyface. He’s everything Bryan is- relatable, independent wrestling background, and who you can’t help but cheer for. He’s gone through a storyline perfectly booked. He was a broken man before one lucky break got him into the #1 contenders status. He almost beat Andrade Cien Almas on a few occasions, one where he lost cleanly (and took a crutch to the back after), and nearly had him tapping before the worlds biggest douche took the same crutch to the back.
Tommaso Ciampa has done everything to become potentially the biggest dick on the face of the earth. From destroying Gargano in Chicago after failing to regain their championships, to a crutch to his back multiple times & costing him the NXT Championship, he has been a nightmare for Johnny Wrestling. Hell, even out of Kayfabe he has become the worst person imaginable. Go follow him on twitter to see how much of an ass this guy is. He moved out of Johnny’s place, cropped him out of photos together at any occasion, shared gifs of himself destroying his former best friend on their twitter, threatened to fight grandmothers, and just generally a terrible person. I mean, this guy could probably kick a puppy on TV and would get less heat then he’s currently getting.
So, this has been amazing. Personally, I don’t like the stipulation attached to this match. I think if they could have continued this feud till TakeOver: Chicago for the rubber match (I count the CWC win for Johnny as a win), it would just enhance this feud. Either way, I can see NXT booking this to have this feud either end on a high note, or continue their long burn story-line as they have. It’s not hard to figure out who wins in each of these story-lines, so…
My argument for Johnny. Everyone loves a feel good story. Johnny has been so close, so many times to winning the ultimate prize in NXT - only to have his former best friend cost him. Wouldnt it be absolutely amazing to see Ciampa’s ass get kicked? Who doesn’t want to see him tap out? Johnny finally winning here will create a huge feel good moment, no matter what. And eventually, he will go over at some point. Plus, imagine how psycho Ciampa would go if he lost - having to share a locker room with his Gargano again would be something I would tune in for every week.
My argument for Tommaso: This may be controversial, but I would have this match be a few minutes long at most if Ciampa is going to win. I wouldn’t have Ciampa win by pinfall - I’d have him beat Johnny so badly the ref stops the match. Think about the heat Ciampa would get. Think KO beating down Sami Zayn, but multiplied by a thousand- and what Ciampa could do with that kind of heat. Wouldn’t that make Johnny winning at a later date (I would have said TakeOver: Chicago before the stipuation), that much bigger? Johnny can move up to either brand (or 205 Live if you want to give them a true white meat babyface) and succeed. It just would kind of suck to see NXT’s Blackheart lose his first match back.
I’ve flip flopped so many times that im just going with my gut on this one. It doesn’t make sense for Ciampa to lose here - and in no way is this the end of their feud. These two will feud on the main roster for sure. With Aleister Black winning the NXT Championship, it would establish the Sicilian Psychopath as the logical #1 contender. With Johnny Gargano rumoured to be heading to the main roster soon too…
Prediction: Tommaso Ciampa breaks everyones heart, and defeats Johnny Gargano. THIS PAINS ME TO WRITE TOO.
- Shanya Baszler becomes NXT Women’s Champion
- The Undisputed Era retain the NXT Tag Team Championship
- Ricochet becomes the first NXT North American Champion
- Aleister Black becomes the NXT Champion
- Tommaso Ciampa defeats Johnny Gargano.
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